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Mel Gravely

Supporting Breastfeeding in Head Start

breastfeeding in head startIn the Head Start Performance Standards: 1302.44 (a) (viii): Promote breastfeeding, including providing facilities to properly store and handle breast milk and make accommodations, as necessary, for mothers who wish to breastfeed during program hours, and if necessary, provide referrals to lactation consultants or counselors.

How can you help support breastfeeding in your Head Start program? Try these tips.

  1. Partner with organizations with your community that already support breastfeeding. You can meet with them to see how you can help each other. Speak to local WIC personal, local childbirth educators, as well as support people from La Leche League.
  2. Learn cultural differences of perceptions of breastfeeding. Each group can have its own perceptions, and it isn’t wise to make assumptions. Do your research and talk to individuals as well.
  3. Train staff on how to promote breastfeeding.
  4. Inform and educate pregnant women about breastfeeding support available to them.
  5. Ensure that your program has a comfortable chair and private spot to breastfeed.
  6. Even if you have a Head Start Program, where most children aren’t being nursed anymore, moms may need a spot to breastfeeding younger sibling, when coming to volunteer, meetings etc.
  7. Help new moms get a breastfeeding pump through insurance, a requirement for each insurance to offer.
  8. Educate parents by offering literature, pamphlets and books on breastfeeding.
  9. Your local Department of Health may offer additional support on breastfeeding, such as lactation counselors or support groups.
  10. Local hospital should offer breastfeeding support as well. See what they offer, and inform parents.
  11. Offer access to sink and storage for pumped milk. You may need to have a small fridge available. Be sure to educate parents on proper handling and storage.
  12. And most importantly, respect mothers for whatever choice they make in feeding their babies.

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